Thursday, August 21, 2008

Serbia: Kosovo Fuelled Georgia Conflict

21 August 2008 Belgrade--US and western support for Kosovo’s secession from Serbia has helped fuel tensions in Georgia's separatist province of South Ossetia, Belgrade’s Foreign Minister insists.

Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic was quoted by Belgrade daily Vecernje Novosti on Thursday as saying the recognition of Kosovo's independence on February 17 by the United States and its NATO allies has "destabilised" other parts of the world."We have pointed out to the international community from the very start that the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo could present a dangerous precedent," Vuk Jeremic was quoted as saying. "Unfortunately, this has proven to be true much sooner than anyone expected." Jeremic was not immediately available for comment, but his spokeswoman confirmed the authenticity of the newspaper interview.Serbia lost control over Kosovo in 1999 after it launched a military campaign there against Kosovo's ethnic Albanian separatists.

Then-President Slobodan Milosevic was forced to pull out of Kosovo after Serbia was bombed by NATO for 78 days in retaliation for its brutality against civilians in Kosovo.Serbia's new, pro-Western leadership that came after Milosevic was ousted in 2000 has refrained from using force in Kosovo but has refused to give up its claim on the territory. Earlier this month, Jeremic sought support in the United Nations for Serbia's request that the Netherlands-based International Court of Justice rule on the legality of Kosovo's declaration of independence. Read more: approved at the upcoming UN General Assembly session, the Serbian request would present an important diplomatic victory for Belgrade, although the court's ruling would be nonbinding.

Serbia has refused to acknowledge the secession of predominantly ethnic Albanian region. Russia has supported Serbia while the United States and its EU allies have stood by Kosovo.In Georgia, fighting broke out on August 7 when Georgia moved to take control of its separatist South Ossetia region. This triggered a massive intervention by Russia, which recaptured South Ossetia and then moved deep into other parts of Georgia.Georgia’s move may have been prompted by the likelihood that South Ossetia and Abkhazia were preparing to follow Kosovo's example and declare independence, while Russia says it is unfair of the West to back one people’s independence and deny it to another.

Read more: said Serbia condemns the use of force in Georgia, and urged countries to find a "peaceful way through the United Nations, with respect to international agreements and international law.

Copyright 2008